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Skepticism for SB736 in the Florida Senate

Skepticism Over SB 736

January 24, 2013

By: Bob Sikes – Scathing Purple Musings

Rick Scott told FOX News host Neil Cavuto after SB736 was past, “It’s going to be great.”

Not so much. Changes are already being considered. Bush Foundation CEO Patricia Levesque wants to add student surveys into the calculus and is floating the idea around. Senate Education chairman John Legg has said his committee will be considering changes to the bill. The committee’s vice chair was more poignant. This from Travis Pillow in theTallahassee Democrat:

State Sen. Bill Montford, a Democrat from Tallahassee, has a broader range of concerns with the law.

He said placing new teachers on one-year contracts for the rest of their careers undermines their job security and could make it more difficult to attract new people to the teaching profession.

“The damage it’s doing we won’t see until five, six years down the road, when we don’t have the good qualified applicants coming into teaching,” Montford told the gathering of school administrators.

People may not take jobs in education for the money, he said, but “there’s limit to how far people will sacrifice.”

This is at odds with something else Scott said after SB736 was passed. More from Pillow:

“We must recruit and retain the best people to make sure every classroom in Florida has a highly effective teacher,” Scott said in a statement after signing the bill at a Jacksonville charter school.

Just how much Scott has become embarrassed about all this is unclear. It turned out that the KIPP charter school he signed the bill earned an F. The chairman of that KIPP school, Gary Chartrand, was named by Scott to the Florida Board of Education. Chartrand now is state board chairman. The first roll-out of SB736 this year turned out to be another disaster. The hearings in Legg’s and Montford’s committee will provide more fireworks.

Meanwhile a legal challenge to SB736 is underway in a Tallahassee courtroom.

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Why is the Bush Foundation Against Federal Graduation Rankings?

January 24, 2013

A curious position indeed.

By: Bob Sikes – Scathing Purple Musings

They favor ranking everything else. From the Bush Foundation’s editorial producer, Mike Thomas:

The unfortunate consequence of No Child Left Behind is that some states dumbed down assessments to increase student passing rates.

Could a new federal formula used to rank high school graduation rates do the same for graduation requirements? Dumbing down graduation requirements, after all, would be the easiest way to raise a state’s ranking.

The U.S. Department of Education unveiled its new formula in November.

“By using this new measure, states will be more honest in holding schools accountable and ensuring that students succeed,” said Secretary Arne Duncan. “Ultimately, these data will help states target support to ensure more students graduate on time, college and career ready.”

But the new measure comes in the form of numbers without context because there is no calculation of what states require for a diploma. A student who may easily meet the requirements to graduate in one state may not in another.

All diplomas are not created equal.

This makes the federal rankings misleading because they are not an apples-to-apples comparison among states. People in the education business understand this, but the vast majority of people – including many in the media and in state legislatures — do not. And so while these rankings carry no federal sanctions, they most definitely have political ramifications.

Oh, my goodness. From a bunch of folks who tout school grades and just about every accountability measure using test data one could think of, this position is stunning. Perhaps graduation rates – especially in Florida – discredit the Florida model Thomas’ boss is selling to republican-led legislatures all over the country. So does Florida’s chilling rate – 55 percent – of college freshmen who need remediation in math, reading or writing when they arrive on campus.  Florida’s colleges have been welcoming the first kids of the FCAT generation since 2007 when the rates became evident.

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